Bedtime during quarantine has turned into something ugly, painful and excruciatingly long.
We’ve been home for 7 weeks now and though we’ve tried to maintain our routine as far as schedules to go to bed and get up, making sure we’re eating healthy, playing outside in our open air garage and patio, playing Legos.....all the things we are trying to do, at night bedtime became this elusive goal that was only causing me more stress.
To clarify, I like to think it all began when I actually had the help of my loving husband who admits that he messed the routine up. When he was home for the first 5 weeks of quarantine without any work, he volunteered to take on the putting them to sleep routine. So after their baths, he’d lay down with them in Zoe’s queen size bed and they’d all fall asleep. He’d later move them to their own beds.
Things got a little hazy there as the kids now expect someone to lay down in their beds with them until they fall asleep. I don’t know if other parents do that, but it’s exhausting.
And during quarantine when all we really want is to find a small pocket of alone time in the day, laying in bed for what I was finding to be over an hour until they settled down was not working for me.
That’s actually the biggest common thread/complaint I see in all my mom chats and on social media, “I just want a minute to myself.”
I posted on social media last week a plea for help, because there were nights once Walter had to go back to work that I would literally start putting kids down at 7:30pm (normal bed time - neither one naps any more) and it would be 9:30 before they were sleeping. And then they would be waking up at 5:30 the next morning, so they were only sleeping 8 hours a night which is usually my goal.
Bless all the other mamas who responded to my Instagram stories saying, “The same thing is happening to us”, “I've totally given up,” "I'm in the same boat".......
Anyways, I knew something had to change.
So I thought about our daily routine. And I realize saying this that some people may be up in arms, but one thing we added to our routine a week ago was getting some help again at home. With Walter working full-time again meeting the demand for masks and other Covid-related projects and me still required to put in full days of work, we needed help.
So we’ve been picking up our nanny and bringing her home each evening. She’s been essentially quarantined just as we have, only going to the store on Sundays. So we feel safe and smart about the decision.
All that to be said, I realized a quick adjustment we could make to ease this sleeping situation (or lack-thereof) would be to have Walter pick up the nanny later (11:00am) and I’d bring her home around 6:00 pm after I’d already bathed the kids, given them supper and put their pajamas on. So yes, this simple change worked.
I know driving your kids around to get them to sleep at night is not sustainable in the long run, but for this crazy season right now, working full-time and trying to be a patient mom through it all, I’m doing the best I can.
And if putting my kids in their car seats and driving around after a long day of non-stop playing, running around, swimming, fort-building, etc works to put them to sleep by 7:00pm, I’m gonna do it. Because I can’t do it all.
I’m sure there’s some books I can read. I’m sure there’s some methods I could implement. But to be quite real with anyone reading this, my brain can only handle so much right now. Working during the day doing live webinars and trainings all day long with teachers in my second language is taxing, it takes a lot out of me.
When I was wrestling with bedtime with my kids, I found myself angry, upset and feeling down, because I had days without any time for me.
Bedtime turned into an ugly and long drawn-out process, so though it's probably not what most parenting books recommend, it's working today.
That may sound selfish to some, but I truly believe that we all need time to take care of ourselves.
Now when my kids are carefully transferred from car seats to their respective beds and it’s 7pm and still light outside,
I go up to our rooftop patio and do yoga, or a HIIT cardio session.
I read or write.
Or have a glass of wine or chamomile tea.
Sometimes I just sit in the breeze and take pictures of the sky.
And I give thanks for another day.